Importing organic produce
For an imported product to be sold as organic, it must conform to equivalent standards as EU produced goods. To ensure this, there are procedures that all importers have to follow when they wish to market a product as organic. These procedures depend on where the goods have originated.
For products which originated in
- Costa Rica
- Republic of Korea
- New Zealand
- United States of America
Inspection and certification of most organic products is carried out by the national authorities of the country of origin. This is because arrangements for the imports of organic products are in place with these countries as their standards and control measures have been assessed as equivalent to those in place in the EU. They are often referred to as ‘equivalent’ countries.
As of 1 February 2020, the United Kingdom is no longer a member of the European Union. Upon its withdrawal, the UK entered into a transition period, lasting until 31 December 2020. During this period, EU law will still apply in the UK.
For products which originated in any other country
In all other countries, inspection and certification is the responsibility of ‘control bodies or authorities’. These are independent bodies appointed by the Commission to ensure that organic producers in their area of responsibility follow standards and control measures equivalent to the EU ones.
If you wish to import a product from one of these countries and market it as organic within the EU, you must contact the appropriate national control body.
There may be additional controls or requirement on products imported from some non-EU countries. Currently, this includes products from the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Moldova, the Russian Federation and China.
Additional advice is available for products imported from the USA.
All organic products imported into the EU must have the appropriate electronic certificate of inspection (e-COI). These are administered through the Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES).
- Equivalent countries: certificates are issued by the control bodies designated by the countries national authorities.
- All other countries: the certificates are issued by the control bodies designated by the EU.
If you do not have an electronic certificate of inspection, your products will not be released from their port of arrival in the EU.
Export of organic products to non-EU countries
The export of organic products from the European Union to non-EU countries is subject to the destination country’s specific requirements, the details of which can be obtained from the competent authorities of the relevant country.
Information for third country control bodies
Organisations that assess and inspect organic producers or distributors from non-EU countries can apply to be recognised as control bodies by the EU. This allows them to certify that products intended for import into the EU are produced organically.